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The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
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The Uncommon Reader (2006)

by Alan Bennett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4,6775211,440 (3.93)724
  1. 90
    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (teelgee)
  2. 60
    Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (fannyprice, _Zoe_)
  3. 52
    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Going in to the bookmobile to apologize for the disturbance created by one of her corgis, Queen Elizabeth II feels it would only be polite to check out a book. When she returns it, she checks out another . . . and then another. One of her pages becomes her abettor in the matter of securing books and reading them. Thus begins an amusing but also thought-provoking saga of how reading can change a person's habits and even outlook.… (more)
  4. 20
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (wisemetis)
  5. 20
    Letters to Alice on First Reading Jane Austen by Fay Weldon (smallbrownbushbird)
  6. 20
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (raulvilar)
  7. 10
    Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (chazzard)
  8. 10
    Talking Heads by Alan Bennett (akfarrar)
    akfarrar: Both these books explore the byways of characters whilst remaining unsentimental. They both expose weaknesses in modern British society if not in humanity. There is a wit in both and a degree of black humour.
  9. 00
    Soft in the Head by Marie-Sabine Roger (albavirtual)
  10. 00
    The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald (suzanney)
  11. 00
    Mist by Miguel de Unamuno (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: También sobre libros y lecturas, pero sobre todo sobre el juego de la creación literaria, y sobre como los personajes de una novela quieren influir sobre el creador de la misma ¡¡¡¡¡¡
  12. 00
    The Clothes They Stood Up In by Alan Bennett (jannis)
  13. 00
    The Last Reader by David Toscana (Cecilturtle)
  14. 01
    The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Brimming with quirky Britishness, these novels take on the transformative powers of doing something different. While the more humorous, satirical Uncommon Reader imagines the Queen as an increasingly sophisticated reader, the more reflective Unlikely Pilgrimage is moving and poignant.… (more)
  15. 03
    The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco (Alixtii)
    Alixtii: Both books having writers getting meta about the nature of writing and reading as a protagonist goes through a process of reading very (and I mean very) many books. Both are written with wit and insight, although Eco's book is better.
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» See also 724 mentions

English (473)  Spanish (11)  Italian (10)  Dutch (9)  German (8)  French (5)  Danish (5)  Catalan (3)  Swedish (2)  Thingamabrarian (the ideal language) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (528)
Showing 1-5 of 473 (next | show all)
The queen is dutiful and enjoys her ceremonial tasks until she discovers the bookmobile parked at the palace. She becomes a voracious reader coming to understand other human beings not having first hand experience as queen. Suddenly she realizes that she needs to be a doer instead of simply a reader and she decides to write. A surprise ending has her abdicatingvyhe throne so she can write a book of her choosing, I chose to read this one twice. Very enjoyable. ( )
  bereanna | Aug 3, 2018 |
OK. I was delighted with this book, except maybe the last page, that kind of threw me for a loop. I was enchanted with the idea of the Queen of England becoming a fellow bibliophile. I read this novella in 2 days and hated to put it down. I definitely recommend. ( )
  CSKteach | Jul 20, 2018 |
Delightful little book with pleasant prose, effortless characterization, and joyous gems about reading which ring true. Last half star missing because I was bothered several times by the nagging feeling that there was a sharp political statement being made that just wasn't quite jelling. (Is this an indictment of the British monarchy? Simply a statement about the importance of self-analysis over constant duty? A commentary on the near-sightedness of Those Who Are In Charge?) I'm not sure the book would be better if this statement were made clear, but the fact the question presented itself and wasn't answered made the novella fall just short of perfect. Recommended. ~August 2010

I first read this nearly eight years ago and enjoyed it very much. I think I liked it even more this time, hearing Bennett read it. I think, knowing a bit more about EII now than I did then, I appreciated what it is doing more now too. Recommended in any form, but especially on audio. ~April 2018 ( )
  lycomayflower | Apr 30, 2018 |
Very elegant and full of quick stabbing humour.
I didn't even use a bookmark. And I love bookmarks. ( )
1 vote alik-fuchs | Apr 27, 2018 |
Imagine the following scenario. The Queen of England haphazardly stumbles upon a traveling library at Buckingham Palace and borrows a book simply because she feels it is expected of her to please the librarian. The Queen reads the book, wants to return it and finds herself borrowing more. To her own surprise, she develops a liking for books, although she considers herself a 'doer' and does not see reading as 'doing'. Her new-found habit influences the way the Queen carries out her duties, the way she treats the people around her and the way she sees life. This, roughly, is the outset of The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, a little novella of less than a hundred pages.

First of all, I found the idea quite intriguing. Seeing the impact reading might have on the Queen makes for some interesting reading. Bennett explores this idea in a quite humorous way, although I have to say that all in all I found the book a little boring to read. And that is my major issue here, other than the idea of the book I found there was not much more to it. As the book is rather short it was easy to finish, but I believe that I would have struggled finishing it had it been longer. Reading until the end was, however, worth it, as the ending actually quite surprised me and struck upon an interesting issue to think about. Now spoilers here, though. All in all, 3 stars. ( )
  OscarWilde87 | Apr 20, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 473 (next | show all)
Det är träffsäkert, roligt och nästan oanständigt underhållande...
 
Bennett manages to touch on some pointed issues in this little volume: life experience versus book experience; the pleasure of reading versus the sterility of being briefed; the riddle of what is "natural" behavior when a person lives so much in the public eye. And he makes you whoop with laughter while he's at it.
 
In recounting this story of a ruler who becomes a reader, a monarch who’d rather write than reign, Mr. Bennett has written a captivating fairy tale. It’s a tale that’s as charming as the old Gregory Peck-Audrey Hepburn movie “Roman Holiday,” and as keenly observed as Stephen Frears’s award-winning movie “The Queen” — a tale that showcases its author’s customary élan and keen but humane wit.
 
The Uncommon Reader is a political and literary satire. But it's also a lovely lesson in the redemptive and subversive power of reading and how one book can lead to another and another and another.
 
This time, his odd, isolated heroine is the queen of England. The story of her budding love affair with literature blends the comic and the poignant so smoothly it can only be by Bennett. It’s not his very best work, but it distills his virtues well enough to suggest how such a distinctive style might have arisen.
 

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bennett, Alanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boda, SofiaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Damsma, HarmTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Herzke, IngoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ménard, PierreTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miedema, NiekTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pavani, MonicaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salojärvi, HeikkiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Steinz, PeterForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At Windsor it was the evening of the state banquet and as the president of France took his place beside Her Majesty, the royal family formed up behind and the procession slowly moved off and through into the Waterloo Chamber.
Quotations
Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.
Had she been asked if reading had enriched her life she would have had to say yes, undoubtedly, though adding with equal certainty that it had at the same time drained her life of all purpose.
She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people. It was a hobby and it was in the nature of her job that she didn't have hobbies. Jogging, growing roses, chess or rock climbing, cake decoration, model aeroplanes. No. Hobbies involved preferences and preferences had to be avoided; preferences excluded people.
The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included.
Indulged and bad-tempered though they were, the dogs were not unintelligent, so it was not surprising that in a short space of time they came to hate books as the spoilsports that they were (and always have been).
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Book description
From the back cover: When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427646, Paperback)

From one of England's most celebrated writers, the author of the award-winning The History Boys, a funny and superbly observed novella about the Queen of England and the subversive power of reading

When her corgis stray into a mobile library parked near Buckingham Palace, the Queen feels duty-bound to borrow a book. Discovering the joy of reading widely (from J. R. Ackerley, Jean Genet, and Ivy Compton-Burnett to the classics) and intelligently, she finds that her view of the world changes dramatically. Abetted in her newfound obsession by Norman, a young man from the royal kitchens, the Queen comes to question the prescribed order of the world and loses patience with the routines of her role as monarch. Her new passion for reading initially alarms the palace staff and soon leads to surprising and very funny consequences for the country at large. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Obliged to borrow a book when her corgis stray into a mobile library, the Queen discovers a passion for reading, setting the palace upon its head and causing the royal head of Great Britain to question her role in the monarchy.

» see all 15 descriptions

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